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Reader Question: Extreme Weight Loss Tummy Tuck – Paid by my Insurance?

Posted Feb 04 2011 10:30am

Reader Question:

Is there a way for health insurance to pay for a tummy tuck when extreme weight loss has occurred?

Yes and No.

A true tummy tuck is one of the largest scale operations a plastic surgeon can offer. Especially when done with all the fine touches, they can really be awesome. They also have some risk and require a long period of aftercare when done right.

Health insurance companies tend to consider a true tummy tuck to be a cosmetic case meaning they don’t cover it. Before the economy went south, there used to be a case for lesser forms of this operation being covered on some insurance plans. The prototypical operation is called a panniculectomy. These are relatively simple operations that remove some of the skin and fat that can hang over the pubes after extreme weight loss. There is no relocation of the belly button and in some cases the belly button is removed (and not replaced.)

The results of panniculectomy are no where near as pretty as a well done tummy tuck and after one sometimes the patient is put in the position in which more surgery cannot really fix the deformity that results. It can be a one way street.

In essence, panniculectomy and other lesser tummy operations “undercorrect” the problem and often exchange a different deformity for the original one. They do not pay well under insurance relative to what a good plastic surgeon makes from a real tummy tuck. Many of us do not do them.

Best Regards,

John Di Saia MD

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